MCCU Advice: Ten tips for the first-time home buyer

From our friends at Members Cooperative Credit Union:

Buying a home can be intimidating, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. The process can be complicated and filled with unfamiliar lingo and surprise expenses. To make the first-time home buyer process a little less intimidating, here are 10 tips to help you navigate the home buying process more smoothly.

Ten tips for the first-time home buyer:

Start saving — When buying a home, you can anticipate having to make a down payment. Though many lenders now permit a lower down payment, a lower down payment can increase your monthly payments. Therefore play with a down payment calculator to help determine a goal amount to save. The more money you are able to save for a down payment, the less your monthly bill will be.

Attend a First-Time-Home-Buyer Seminar — More knowledge about the home buying process is better than none. A First-Time Home Buyer Seminar is a great way to learn the ins and outs of the home-buying process, and can better pre-pare you for the obstacles you may encounter. At MCCU we offer several free First-Time Home Buyer Seminars throughout the year. Therefore, check our news and events page frequently for any upcoming mortgage seminars.

Check the selling price of homes in your area — Determine the neighborhood/area you would like to live and see what the houses are selling for. This will give you a better idea as to how much money you need to save as well as determining what you may be able to afford.

Estimate what your total monthly housing cost would be — Calculate your mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities to help determine your monthly housing cost. By calculating these expenses you will have a better idea as to how much you will need to budget.

Determine your budget — Look at your budget and determine what you can afford. If you don’t have a budget, check out our 6 easy steps on how to make a budget. By having a budget, you will have a clear financial breakdown of what you can afford.

Examine your credit — Poor credit or the inability to make a substantial down payment can make buying a home extremely difficult. Therefore, run a credit report to see your credit score, see if there are any mistakes, and to see what areas you may need to improve to help increase your credit score.

Get your documentation in a row — To get pre-approved for a loan, you will need pay stubs, bank account statements, W-2’s and tax returns. Other information may be needed upon request. To apply for a mortgage loan at MCCU, check out our Mortgage Checklist for information required during the application process.

Find a lender and get pre-approved — Getting pre-approved for a mortgage allows you to lock in at a certain rate, as well as determines the amount of money a financial institute is willing to loan you. At MCCU we offer great loan rates and have a passionate team of mortgage experts to help you every step of the way. You can either apply for a loan in-person with one of our mortgage experts, or apply for a mortgage online.

Find a realtor — It is always a good idea to find a realtor to represent you when buying a home. A buyer’s agent will represent your interest, instead of those of the seller. One of the best ways to select a realtor to help you find a home, is through a referral from a family member or friend. Another great way to find a realtor is going to open houses and talking to different agents holding various home opens to see who you feel the most comfortable with, and appears to be the most knowledgeable about the areas you are looking in.

Look at houses — Prior to looking at houses, make a list of ‘must haves’, the things that are most important to you. This can help filter out what homes aren’t worth you or your realtor’s time to look at. When looking at homes, do let the little things go. It’s easy to get caught up on superficial details like paint color, light fixtures and carpets. These features are easy to change once the home is yours. Also, be prepared to compromise. It’s rare to find a house that’s perfect in every way, so think carefully about what you’re willing to compromise on and what you’re not, when looking at homes.

“The house you looked at today, and want to think about until tomorrow…might be the same house someone looked at yesterday, and will buy today.” –Koki Adasi